An interviewer posed this question to me recently: Is networking in social media a worthy investment?
In the world of coordinated creation of social media stories, there’s typically two kinds of success, or ROI, on social campaigns – Cost Mitigation, and Sales Increase. And I believe there is a Return on Relationship (ROR) fostered by all brand relevant content and communication… simply put the value that is accrued by a person or brand due to nurturing a relationship. ROI is simple $’s and cents, ROR is the value (both perceived and real) that will accrue over time through loyalty, recommendations and sharing.
There’s a lot of angst in marketing land right now. With Google’s Panda and Penguin changes and social algorithms that favor engagement, it may look as though SEO is dead, or that traditional ads will soon be going the way of the dodo. What’s a marketer to think? Are we supposed to throw out everything we learned about marketing and advertising to date and learn to ride a new horse? How the heck are we supposed to get in front of customers now?
Well, things ARE changing. Traditional advertising isn’t yet extinct, but there is simply too much noise out there, and people are sick of it. They’re shutting out the blast advertising that has crept into every aspect of their lives and centering in on the things they truly care about—friends, family, and social connections. You need to take a step back and study this shift in order to take advantage of it.
Here are a few things to consider in addition to just posting articles and working the SEO angle… four places to concentrate to enhance engagement:
1. User-Friendly Navigation: Keeping your blog easy to navigate with intuitive category labels will help people find the information they seek much faster. Here again, doing your research on what your customers are looking for is essential. Also, make it easy for readers to leave comments and share your posts on various channels.
I read a fascinating global study on what CEOs think of Marketers, by the Fournaise Marketing Group. Some of the interesting findings for me are:
- They keep on talking about brand, brand values, brand equity and other similar parameters that their top management has great difficulties linking back to results that really matter: revenue, sales, EBIT or even market valuation (77%)
- They focus too much on the latest marketing trends such as social media, because they believe they represent the new marketing frontiers – but can rarely demonstrate how these trends will help them generate more business for the company (74%)
- They are always asking for more money, but can rarely explain how much incremental business this money will generate (72%)
- They bombard their stakeholders with marketing data that hardly relate to or mean anything for the company’s P&L (70%)
The average tenure of a CMO is still less than two years. largely because of the issues identified above.
More and more, I like the word “appeal” and its implications for marketing and facilitating the building of relationships.
The definition of “appeal” (according to the World English Dictionary) is “the power to attract, please, stimulate, or interest.” So, if we apply that to marketing, it means thatbrands that think in terms of “appeal” are more likely to try to attract, please, stimulate, and provide interest for the consumer — all behaviors of engagement, which is the foundation of relationships.
Even if you are absolutely certain that your product/service is one of the best on the market, what you think of your brand is not nearly as important as what your consumers think of it and say about it. They are, after all, the market!
“Brand humility is the only response to a fast-changing and competitive marketplace. The humble brand understands that it needs to re-earn attention, re-earn loyalty and reconnect with its audience as if every day is the first day.” – Seth Godin (in a recent blog post)
In my opinion, Seth’s message is right on target. Brands simply cannot compete in this marketplace if they don’t make an ongoing effort to put aside ego-driven campaigns in order to genuinely engage with their consumers and potential consumers. Relationships require humility, whether it’s personal relationships, business relationships, or brand/consumer relationships.
I’ve been working in digital marketing since 1997, and each year I believe more strongly in the power of relationships for effectively connecting brands with consumers. Back then, I never could have imagined the incredible connection-building possibilities provided by social media, but I am enjoying witnessing the world-wide adoption of social media as a viable business tool! There’s no place I’d rather be than in the middle of this shift, and am pleased to have the opportunity to share my expertise with and learn from the team at Collective Bias as their Chief Social Marketing Officer. This is very exciting and something John Andrews, the founder of Collective Bias, and I have talked about for a long time.
I love the blogging community because when it comes down to it, they genuinely want to share useful information, and to connect people to information and products. That really hit home for me when I was CMO of e.l.f. Cosmetics (Eyes Lips Face) from 2008-2010. I pioneered a program to develop and utilize blogger relationships to exponentially increase and sustain the e.l.f. brand visibility, and because of the blogger energy, talent, and networks, the program at e.l.f. brand evolved and succeeded with a unique approach toward not just beauty, but also accessibility, interactivity and consumer engagement. At that time, the jury was still out on the business value of social media, but the success of this program confirmed for e.l.f. (and other previously skeptical businesses), that building relationships with consumers not only enhances the long-term viability of the brand, but has a direct short-term effect on the bottom line.
My good friend Olivier Blanchard recently released his new book, Social Media ROI, Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization. As he was nearing its completion, he asked if I would write the foreword and to be honest, I was flattered. I agreed to do so under one condition, that I get the opportunity to share the foreword with you here. Long story short, here we are. The book is extremely helpful and carries the endorsements of those I also respect including Chris Brogan, Jay Baer, Geoff Livingston, and Kyle Lacy.
Courtney Velasquez, Social Fabric Community Director, interviewed John Andrews, Collective Bias (CB) Founder/CEO, and Ted Rubin and Dave Henry of the CB Board of Advisors to understand how brands and retailers can measure social media ROI, engage in shopper listening and receive shopper feedback. Originally posted at CollectiveBias.com
1. How can brands drive measurable ROI from social media now?
John: This is such an important question! ROI is usually addressed from a longer-term perspective, and with the immediacy of social media interactions (and exponential growth and adoption), we really do need to see measurable ROI in the shorter term.
Ted: Social media is so popular and effective as a marketing tool because it focuses on the customer experience instead of just throwing an advertisement at them and hoping the impression will stick. The key, then, to driving measurable ROI is in customers’ shopping experience. JUST by listening to what shoppers want, you can improve their shopping experience (e.g. in-stock position, proper assortment, promotion placement, etc.) and grow your sales by a measurable effect immediately. Be a socially-focused organization.